Inside jokes: Comedy in lockdown

Thursday, May 7, 2020 - 11:03

After almost two months in lockdown, we’re all searching through streaming services and delving into podcast back catalogues to find new ways to entertain ourselves.

Well for now you can take a break, as Southbank Centre’s Comedy Programmer Pax Lowey has searched the web and done the work for you, to pick out their old favourites and new highlights.

Mr. Swallow: Houdini

Soho Theatre on Demand, until 20 May

In this 2016 Fringe hit, Nick Mohammed’s camp comedic creation Mr. Swallow pays homage to Harry Houdini by recreating his legendary underwater escape. This faux-musical also stars acclaimed comics Kieran Hodgson and David Elms, and is densely packed with genuinely impressive magic, hilarious comedy, and fantastic musical numbers. It costs £4 and all profits go to charities supporting those affected by the current crisis — so it’s definitely worth it.

Soho Theatre on Demand


Secret Artists with Annie McGrath




A post shared by Secret Artists podcast (@secretartpod) on

This podcast features comic and painter Annie McGrath discussing art with a guest as they draw or paint together. The result is usually light and silly — but occasionally delves deeper into more philosophical territory – as they talk about art and the process of creating it. Past guests have included Lou Sanders, Phil Wang, Alex Horne and Lolly Adefope. Mae Martin’s episode is a particular highlight!

listen via Acast


Isolation Song Contest


Isolation Song Contest - Eurovision replacement for charity

After this year’s Eurovision was cancelled, comedian Tom Taylor put together a replacement; the Isolation Song Contest, featuring big names from the world of comedy, drag, and cabaret. Fourteen contestants were randomly assigned countries and given just one week to compose their Eurovision-style entry and film a music video in lockdown. Entrants include Mel Giedroyc, Tim Vine and Divina de Campo — plus there’s an incredible list of special guests from Clare Balding to Sir Cliff Richard!

watch the contest


Live from Lockdown

BBC Sounds

Following the cancellation of Machynlleth Comedy Festival, BBC Wales commissioned a series of radio specials from this hugely influential event. This episode, ‘Live from Lockdown’, is a comedy cabaret show recorded entirely in lockdown on smartphones and laptops.

Hosted by Kiri Pritchard-McLean, it has sketches from Tarot, poems from Tim Key, songs from Carys Eleri, and stand-up from Shrill star Lolly Adefope and Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Jordan Brookes.

listen via BBC Sounds



On Demand, All 4

Seinfeld george girlfriend looks like jerry

Earlier this year, Channel 4 released all nine seasons of Seinfeld for free on All 4. Described by The Guardian as ‘the greatest US sitcom ever written’, Seinfeld has had a huge impact on comedy and wider pop culture. Whether you’ve watched it before and are keen for some 90s nostalgia — or have, like me, (embarrassingly) always been meaning to watch it, now’s your chance!

watch via Channel 4


Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster




A post shared by Off Menu Podcast (@offmenuofficial) on

Each week, comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster invite special guests into their magical restaurant to choose their dream meal. Guests so far have included Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Victoria Coren Mitchell and Richard Osman — plus comedians Katherine Ryan, Catherine Cohen and Nish Kumar.

The hosts invite their guest to choose their ultimate starter, main course and dessert — questioning how each dish came to be their choice, revealing evocative and funny anecdotes. Check out this week’s episode, which features Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Susie Essman.

Off menu website



The show must go on(line)

Sadly, for everyone’s safety, our venues are currently closed. But you can still get your Southbank Centre fix online. We will continue to share inspiring and thought-provoking arts stories through our website and social channels.

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As a charity, we rely on ticket sales for a huge chunk of our income. But now they’ve stopped. And it's a huge worry to us, and the people we work with. We all need the escape of art and culture; it can inspire and unite us. So please – if you can afford to – consider a donation to the Southbank Centre today, to help us be there for you in the future.

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